Eating citrus lowers women’s stroke risk

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

Boston, MA, United States (AHN) – Researchers have identified a compound found in oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits that may lower a woman’s risk of stroke.

Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables helps protect against strokes, and many believe that antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids may explain why. Flavonoids have been shown to improve blood vessel function in addition to their myriad and powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

In the newly published study, conducted at Boston’s Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, flavonoids abundant in citrus fruits called flavanones appear to give the most protection against stroke.

Among findings in the new research, which analyzed 14 years of follow-up data on nearly 70,000 female nurses who participated in the nationwide health study, women whose diets included the highest amount of flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk of suffering a blood-related stroke than women with the lowest intake of the compound.

However, women need to be mindful before digging into a juicy grapefruit or downing a big glass of grapefruit juice, which can sometimes cause dangerous interactions with medication commonly prescribed to lower heart attack and stroke risk.

Health officials stress that the study reinforces the benefits of eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.

The study appears in the April issue of the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

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